New York to Dallas
New York to Dallas is the first In Death book whose title does not fit the pattern. According to Ms. Robb herself, this break is not that significant to the course of the series as a whole, and after reading the book, I can see what she means. While this is a solid entry in the series and did have some significant developments, other aspects of the story felt stale.
When Lieutenant Eve Dallas was a rookie beat cop, she had a lucky break, thanks to some keenly honed instincts, that resulted in the arrest of a violent pedophile who “collected” and raped young girls. Twelve years later, though, Isaac McQueen has escaped jail, and is out to get Eve, regain his control, and get back at the person who took that control away from him. In doing so, he goes to Dallas – the city that finally gave Eve an identity, where she escaped the brutality of her father, a city that haunts her to this day. Eve (and Roarke, of course) have to face the demons of her past while chasing down this particular demon that reminds her so much of her own father.
In terms of Eve’s personal life story, this is one of the most important installments. She learns even more about her past while in Dallas and suffers psychologically as a result. Looking back, though, it’s interesting to compare how she and Roarke dealt with the traumas of their pasts earlier, and where they are now. One of the joys of the In Death series is its character development. Ms. Robb has managed to keep Roarke and Eve dynamic through thirty-something books, which is no mean feat.
Some of the language used in this one, though, felt shopworn. There were a few moments where the syntax and diction felt a bit too familiar. I think the author falls into patterns of word choice and sentence structure, and with so many books under her belt, there are only so many ways to write about Eve and Roarke having sex. Eventually, the imagery and metaphors are going to be recycled, and they felt particularly worn this time around. It isn’t just the sex, either, but the pattern of the plot; the way Roarke comes into the investigation, convinces Eve to use the Unregistered computer, and Eve begins to piece things together. The motions of the story lacked freshness, in spite of the location change.
For those who struggle with violence in novels, this is not a book for you. The criminal in this book is a violent pedophile, and there were some moments that made me feel dirty just reading the book. Nothing is overtly graphic, but implicit enough to turn the stomach. The psychology of McQueen and his development as a villain was well done, though; he’s fascinating in a horrifying way, and with Mira on board there is an in-depth analysis of what made the monster.
This is a thrilling book and, in terms of Eve and Roarke’s personal struggles, a romantic one. There are some really great moments between them. However, in the long run this book didn’t feel like a game changer. Because of the unusual title it will stand out amongst the backlist, but in a lot of other ways it fades into the long line of very good, but less memorable, In Death installments.